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UK-India joint observational campaign to study monsoon variability

Dr Harsh Vardhan and Dr Alexander Evans boarded the UK’s Atmospheric Research Aircraft to study monsoon variability in Lucknow.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Dr Alexander Evans and UK & Indian scientists at FAAM to study monsoon variability

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Dr Alexander Evans and UK & Indian scientists at FAAM to study monsoon variability

The Indian Minister for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan commended the growing UK-India research partnership, as he participated in the UK-India observational campaign to study monsoon variability in Lucknow on 11 July 2016.

Dr Harsh Vardhan boarded the UK’s Atmospheric Research Aircraft at Lucknow airport, to understand how the UK and Indian scientists have teamed up to use this state-of-art aircraft through a large-scale observational campaign in India, to gather data that will improve understanding of the physical processes of the South Asian monsoon and their improved representation in weather and climate models.

This campaign is part of the UK-India research programme on the Drivers of Variability on the South Asian Monsoon, a collaboration between the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO) of the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Met Office.

This aircraft is managed by the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) which is a collaborative operation between NERC and UK Met Office.

This is one of the most ambitious campaigns started in May 2016 for a period of two months and for the first time this research aircraft has undertaken a flight in India. Some of the early outcomes of this flying campaign include:

  • seasonal survey of the monsoon regimes in northern India
  • surveys of the monsoon winds associated with Western Ghats rainfall and the southeast Indian ‘rain shadow’
  • analysis of land-atmosphere interaction over a variety of climatic zones in India
  • analysis of air-sea interaction in the Bay of Bengal
  • pollution interactions with the monsoon
  • assessing air quality over regional scales

The project has received combined funding from NERC (£3.5 million), Newton Fund (£1.5 million), and UK’s Met Office (£0.7 million) with matched resources from MoES.

This research programme complements the National Monsoon Mission program launched by MoES in 2012 with an aim to improve monsoon prediction at all temporal and spatial scales through joint efforts of national and international scientific communities.

Dr Alexander Evans, British Deputy High Commissioner, India; Dr Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, Secretary MoES; officials from Research Councils UK India and researchers from the UK and India, accompanied the minister.

Dr Harsh Vardhan and Dr Alexander Evans along with officials addressed a joint press conference sharing their experience on board the research plane and the data being gathered. Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the UK and India share a strong research collaboration and it is growing from strength to strength. This large scale observational campaign involving the UK’s research aircraft and India’s Sindhu Sadhna research ship are identifying new methods to understand monsoon and its predictability.

Dr Alexander Evans, British Deputy High Commissioner, India said:

The Monsoon is crucial to people across India and South Asia – and so is understanding how it functions and varies. This vital joint research initiative shows India and the UK working together to improve scientific understanding through our growing research collaboration. I am very grateful to the Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, for his commitment and support, and look forward to the Tech Summit in November 2016 which will further deepen UK-India cooperation.

RCUK India has facilitated a very strong collaboration between ESSO-MoES and the NERC over the last 5 years. Under this thriving partnerhip, several other major research programmes have taken place, such as: Changing Water Cycle; Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health in an Indian Megacity; Sustaining Water Resources for Food, Energy and Ecosystem Services and UK-India Joint Centre on Water Security.

Further information

  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC): NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. NERC co-ordinates some of the world’s most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is a non-departmental public body and receives around £370m of annual funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

  • Earth System Science Organization (ESSO) - Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES): ESSO-MoES is mandated to provide the nation with best possible services in forecasting the monsoons and other weather/climate parameters, ocean state, earthquakes, tsunamis and other phenomena related to earth systems through well integrated programmes. The ministry also deals with science and technology for exploration and exploitation of ocean resources (living and non-living), and play nodal role for Antarctic/Arctic and Southern Ocean research. The ministry’s mandate is to look after atmospheric sciences, ocean science and technology and seismology in an integrated manner.

  • Research Councils UK (RCUK) India: RCUK India, launched in 2008, brings together the best researchers in the UK and India through high-quality, high-impact research partnerships. RCUK India, based at the British High Commission in New Delhi, has facilitated co-funded initiatives between the UK, India and third parties that have grown to over to £200 million. The research collaborations are often closely linked with UK and Indian industry partners, with more than 90 partners involved in the research. RCUK India is actively involved in co-funded research activities with seven major Indian research funders on a wide array of research themes addressing global challenges such as energy, climate change, social scineces, health care and life sciences.

  • Drivers of Variability in the South Asian Monsoon: This joint effort is part of the implementation agreement signed between MoES and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK on ‘Predicting the Variability of the South Asian Monsoon’ under the existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) between MoES and UK on Collaboration in Earth System Science. Three research projects involving the Indian and UK scientists will study different aspects of physical processes affecting the monsoon. These projects are:

    • South West Asian Aerosol Monsoon Interactions: Dr S. Suresh Babu (Indian Space Research Organisation) and Prof. Hugh Coe (University of Manchester)

    • Monsoon dynamics and thermodynamics from the land surface, through convection to the continental-scale: Prof. G. S. Bhat (Indian Institute of Science) and Dr Andrew Turner (University of Reading)

    • Impact of ocean-atmosphere processes in the Bay of Bengal on the South Asian monsoon: Prof P. N. Vinayachandran (Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences) and Adrian Matthews (University of East Angelia)

  • Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM): FAAM is the result of a collaboration between the Met Office and the Natural Environment Research Council and has been established as part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) to provide an aircraft measurement platform for use by the UK atmospheric research community on campaigns throughout the world.

  • Newton Fund: The Newton Fund is an initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies.

  • please click the Flickr links below, to view images from the event:

For more information, please contact:

Geeny George Shaju, Communications Manager
RCUK India
British High Commission, New Delhi
Telephone: 011-2419 2637

Email: Geeny George

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Published 12 July 2016